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Dec 09 2012

Maybe every wolf should have a name

We’ve been having a wolf hunt here in Minnesota this year, and so far about 150 wolves have been killed (by the way, don’t read the comments at that link; our bold brave wolf trappers are accusing critics of being “trannies” who have to squat to pee — it’s amazing how this toxic machismo poisons so many things). But the news in the NY Times is that a famous wolf has been killed. That’s 832F, the alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack in Yellowstone.

She’s wearing a radio collar. She was a prominent member of a visible pack, and well known to journalists and tourists. Unfortunately, she wandered out of the protected confines of the national park (funny how animals don’t notice artificial boundaries) and was shot. The male in this photo was also shot a few weeks ago. All of these kills were perfectly legal, as are the kills in Minnesota.

It’s disturbing that we should have a desire to restore and maintain the richness of a complex ecosystem, but our solution is to hand ignorant yahoos a license to flex their barbaric masculinity by gunning down key species; a solution that also props up an unsustainable compromise that allows agricultural interests priority over rational land use. We use national resources to subsidize a small number of ranchers — we basically set aside these tracts of land as a national preserve, and instead we bought grazing land for sheep farmers.

You want to profit off the open land? Consider wolf kills of your livestock to be a tax on your privileges.

106 comments

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  1. 1
    nimuae

    This makes me so mad. Wolves are such beautiful creatures. I wonder why they don’t require hunters not to shoot at wolves with radio collars. They’re pretty obvious.

  2. 2
    Scarina

    What a shame. I wish the wolves would come back to where my family lives, in NE Pennsylvania. I’d rather see them taking the deer down than cars.

  3. 3
    timgueguen

    You’d think in the 21st Century there would be other ways to prevent wolves from taking livestock than killing them.

  4. 4
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    The first place I ever saw a wolf in the wild was Lamar Valley. Saw a large dark wold hunting rodents. Funny to see an animal that large pounce like a housecat.

    A few years back (well, a few decades back), there was a proposal to expand Yellowstone to the ecological boundaries. This would have involved transferring USFS land to the NPS. And, from what I remember, the biggest argument against it was that the Eastern Liberals were trying to stop Montanans, Idahoans, and Wyomingites hunting.

    Scarina:

    Our state, however, worships the almighty hunter. Never mind that the deer are destroying the forest through overgrazing. Never mind that I killed a deer with my car in Bear Creek. Anything that anyone thinks might interfere with the deer harvest is verboten.

  5. 5
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    You’d think in the 21st Century there would be other ways to prevent wolves from taking livestock than killing them.

    It doesn’t even take a 21st century solution. Livestock guardian dogs work. They protect the animals they’ve bonded with and eventually the wolves learn to avoid the livestock entirely because they’re protected by a big dog.

  6. 6
    iknklast

    I was discussing this in my Environmental Science class last week. One of the girls, a college senior who will soon be teaching first graders, piped up and said “I’m alive, so I don’t care if others have died.” By the way, this same “human being” has been disrupting my lectures all semester with snide Christian commentary. Perhaps she needs to read Francis of Assisi?

    In her worldview, as long as she is alive, nothing else matters. It never occurs to her that her life might depend on others. That’s the mindset here in the rural areas of the Agricultural Belt. They don’t depend on anyone (or anything) but themselves.

    One girl last year, for an environmental science scavenger hunt (done with photographs) turned in a picture of a human holding a gun (her boyfriend) standing over a pile of about twenty wolves and coyotes. She was so proud of this picture, she turned it in for another class, as well.

  7. 7
    Banned Atheist

    Ignorant asshole ranchers. I grew up in that neck of the woods and the smart ranchers keep Great Pyrenees around to great effect.

  8. 8
    Rabid
    You’d think in the 21st Century there would be other ways to prevent wolves from taking livestock than killing them.

    It doesn’t even take a 21st century solution. Livestock guardian dogs work. They protect the animals they’ve bonded with and eventually the wolves learn to avoid the livestock entirely because they’re protected by a big dog.

    I saw a documentary with that guy who lives with wolves and studies their behaviour, communication and family/pack life in captivity where they were using loudspeakers to broadcast wolf calls and howls. It simulated another packs territorial border and was enough to warn the wild packs to stay away from the area.

  9. 9
    mykemyers

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the Tetons, and as much as I’m sure i’ll get flamed for saying this – you really have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s only been recently that Wolves have been taken off the protected list in that area. When I say recently, I mean within the last 6-12 months. As of last April they were still protected and you could not shoot one under any circumstances, unless you were being attacked (which is extremely rare). If you’re a rancher and your livestock was being attacked by a wolf – too bad, it’s the cost of doing business. Last winter, and into the spring and summer there was a good deal of debate about what level of protection they should continue to have.

    The reason why they were taken off the protected species list is because the local population has grown to the point where it is out of balance with the rest of the ecosystem. While there are still a number of elk and deer and whatnot in the area – it is not enough to support the number and size of wolf packs in the area, in a way that maintains proper health and balance of all the species. That’s why the wolves start going after livestock rather than hunting the wild herds that populate the area from yellowstone down to the national elk refuge, and even further south. While clearly wolves don’t recognize man made borders such as those of a national park – when they start to wonder and travel in search of food – it’s for a reason. There is not enough in the area, and they have to travel further to find more. That right there should be evidence for anyone who bothers to think about it that there’s something wrong.

    While it’s fine to sit back from behind a computer and pontificate about these things – I suggest if you want to speak on the subject with any authority you go spend some time in the area. Some of the people here are talking about things they saw a decade+ ago – and frankly that means nothing. Anybody who’s spent any time there in the last several years knows how seriously the local government, and the local population takes wildlife conservation. Anybody who’s tried to hunt there knows how tightly controlled the process is to do so, and how swift and severe the penalties are if you don’t play by the rules. Anybody who’s even been to Jackson and read a local paper knows how passionate people are there about protecting wildlife and the environment, and knows that the decision to lesson the level of protection on the local wolf population was not taken lightly, and was not done just for the hell of it.

    But hey – what the hell do I know? I only lived there. I only took part in that debate. I only know the ranchers you call idiots.I mean hell you’ve got an internet connection and a keyboard – clearly you all know a heck of a lot more than I do.

  10. 10
    chrisv

    You still don’t get it, do you. We are the killer species. Read “Demonic Males” (Wrangham & Peterson – Houghton Mifflin). Behaviors that were functional long ago are now Eco-destructive and I’m afraid there isn’t much we can do about. It’s a race between evolution to a higher state of being vs self-destruction. I’m betting on the latter. No one ever went broke betting on the lowest common denominator.

  11. 11
    TheBlackCat

    @ mykemyers: right, its not like there were any indications it might be bad to target this particular wolf. You know, like a big radio collar or anything. And I am sure it is a total coincidence that wolves are getting shot right on the very edge of the border of the park.

  12. 12
    Pteryxx

    right, and because wolves are just like caulking and stay exactly where they’re put. They can’t possibly wander because they’re looking for unrelated mates, or open territories, or where other packs might be, or exploring where the prey animals wander in *their* travels. Or because wandering is part of being a wolf.

  13. 13
    Amphiox

    I do not think the “demonic male” hypothesis remains that well accepted or is considered mainstream anymore, if it ever was.

  14. 14
    naturalcynic

    @iknklast:

    One of the girls, a college senior who will soon be teaching first graders, …

    When I saw “girls…college senior” a sexist flag popped up, but, after reading on, the immaturity was obvious.

    @mykemyers

    …the local population has grown to the point where it is out of balance with the rest of the ecosystem

    Consider the sheep and yourself as a part of the ecosystem. Have the ranchers tried big dogs, etc.?

  15. 15
    inflection

    @nimuae #1: One wonders if the collar is a “shoot-me” sign, actually, specifically for the reason that if one was wondering whether to shoot a particular wolf, it would be a note that killing that particular wolf would dismay egghead scientists and liberal treehuggers.

    That said… I’m no evo-psych partisan, but Lord! I kept a garden for just one summer and the rabbits were getting to everything, and I tried spraying and fencing but by the end of the season I was up to throwing rocks at the little thieves. I hate guns, passionately, but give me a couple of summers and I could see myself having maybe worked my way up to buying a pellet gun. So while I deplore the possibility that someone is shooting wolves just to piss off nature-lovers, I can understand the impulse.

    That doesn’t mean it’s an impulse that should be followed up on, though. There’s no way the population is big enough that hunts near Yellowstone are an ecologically sound management decision; it was clearly made under pressure from the eradication lobby.

  16. 16
    fernando

    Maybe, to protect both the wolves and the legitimate interests of cattle owners, the american authorities could introduce more native species that the wolves hunt, to prevent the said wolves of attacking the cattle.

    Regarding the hunting of wolves for “recreational purposes”, that, in my humble opinion, should be banned.
    Only the federal authorities could have the necessary permission to kill wolves, if they, for some reason present a threat to the people and other animals in the region.

  17. 17
    Kagehi

    Behaviors that were functional long ago are now Eco-destructive and I’m afraid there isn’t much we can do about.

    No, what people don’t get in cases like this is that we “tried” over management of ecosystems, like preventing fires in places that depended on them, for example, and it didn’t work. So, we tried “leave it alone, to balance itself.”, and irony of ironies, it turns out that *nature* could give a flying fuck whether or not species survive either, and its quite happy to depopulate a species, and let the predators starve, or allow some plant we haven’t identified die out, starving something else, etc. Turns out, “conservation”, ends up being not about keeping people from damaging the land, but, to save species that people like, sometimes its about saving species from each other, or from nature itself, which, would seem to be a bloody insane contradiction. But, if you think about it, that makes sense, and the stupid assed, “Nature would take care of itself, if we let it.”, argument is damn near religious, or… dare I say, right up there in the realm of Economic Libertarianism, which has the same problem, “It will fix itself eventually, and I can’t possibly imagine all the stuff we might actually want to preserve, which will die in the process of it doing that, whether or not we ‘interfere’ or not.” The obvious problem is, some of us a) do understand how long it could take for things to “fix themselves”, and b) there are things we don’t want to see disappear, and perhaps can’t afford to have disappear, as a result of laissez-faire management. And, that applies as much to ecosystems as it does to markets.

  18. 18
    unclefrogy

    there is part of this discussion about people hunting wolves and farming/ranching that I think is overlooked.
    That is that people are lazy or tend to be lazy when given the choice we will do it what we see as the easy way which is mostly the way we have been doing things. Shooting things is easy to do once we have learned to do it. Learning something new takes effort regardless of how long some others have been doing the same thing.
    Hunters and ranchers are not a typical. I think that the reaction to “do it the way we have always done it ” infects all of our environmental problems and issues. The less obvious costs are ignored the overall increase in efficiency of the system is not even a thought of.

    The people who developed the dog breeds to protect their herds had no other way to do it at the time and the dogs were the easiest things to use. Ten to one it was the dogs who came up with the idea first.

    uncle frogy

  19. 19
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    inflection#15
    Next time I have space for a garden, I plan to try one of theseif I have rabbit problems. Apparently they’re not good enough yet to target birds adequately, but I bet that’s fixable if someone was working towards that goal specifically instead of use in paintball wargames. There are biodegradable airsoft pellets available, and those should be great for discouraging beasties without doing them any real harm.

  20. 20
    Rey Fox

    There’s no way the population is big enough that hunts near Yellowstone are an ecologically sound management decision; it was clearly made under pressure from the eradication lobby.

    I tend to think this is the case, although it sort of depends on what one considers the capacity for wolves to be. There really isn’t a home for as many of them as there was in pre-Columbian times, the landscape has been altered too much, there are too many people trying to make their own living on what used to be wolf (and everything else) territory.

    I generally trust the capability of state and federal agencies to manage wildlife populations sustainably, and I wouldn’t argue that a well-regulated hunt is bad for a species, even if I personally find wolf hunting to be a pointless display of some outdated idea of masculinity. And that nonconsumptive wolf tourism possibly brings in more money than hunting does.

    The wolf-killing lobby is certainly loud and influential though. I haven’t read up on the northern Rockies wolves in a while, but I know that their delisting was delayed for several years because while Montana and Idaho had post-listing management plans in place, Wyoming insisted on classifying delisted wolves as “predators”, which in game terms meant they had about the same amount of legal protection as coyotes. I wonder if WY finally just wore everyone else down.

  21. 21
    georgewiman

    Newspaper says we killed 99,000 deer in Illinois last year, and they’re still a major problem. Maybe some wolves would be a good thing, no?

  22. 22
    torbertin

    Sigh. We in Montana reached our wolf population delisting goals almost a decade ago. They only remained unlisted due to the actions of well-meaning but ignorant environmental groups, and it (very unfortunately) required a congressional backdoor to get past the barrage of unnecessary and counterproductive lawsuits. Not only are wolves fantastically efficient breeders (and so can recover to perturbations in demography fairly quickly), but the harvest is being *extremely* closely monitored by the Fish and Wildlife for any signs of over-exploitation.

    And yes, Wyoming’s plan has always been silly.

  23. 23
    Nepenthe

    @Torbertin

    Well, I suppose if Fish and Wildlife is closely monitoring signs of “over-exploitation” it sure is fine to have recreational hunters shoot random members of closely integrated family groups. A wolf is a wolf is a wolf, after all.

    In my area (not the Rockies), it’s been decided that a pack of four wolves is far too large to allow to live. They might eat some of the weaker deer and then what sickly, overabundant animals are the tourists going to shoot?

  24. 24
    Inaji

    Nepenthe:

    They might eat some of the weaker deer and then what sickly, overabundant animals are the tourists going to shoot?

    Yeah, ’cause an excess of deer is such a rare event.

  25. 25
    Jafafa Hots

    How many of these ranchers need government subsidies to stay in business?

  26. 26
    torbertin

    Yes, the various monitoring regimes and population / harvest models incorporate the effects of social instability caused by death in a pack. In the end, it’s the wolf demographic response to harvest rates that matter, and biologists seem to have a pretty decent handle on it, and are monitoring wolf population responses and setting harvests accordingly.

    The biologists aren’t the bad guys.

  27. 27
    mykemyers

    The fact that a wolf has a collar is frankly irrelevant. It doesn’t make an animal any more or less protected, it just means it’s being tracked. If it is hunted and killed, that is simply another data point.

  28. 28
    Scarina

    Our state, however, worships the almighty hunter. Never mind that the deer are destroying the forest through overgrazing. Never mind that I killed a deer with my car in Bear Creek. Anything that anyone thinks might interfere with the deer harvest is verboten.
    It’s such a shame. They eat my mom’s garden bare every year. I can’t really blame them for doing what deer do, though. The worst part is that some people in her community feed them so they’re not scared of people anymore. Then, hunting season comes and BLAM. We haven’t seen any bats for the past two years, either, so the mosquitoes and other insects have been awful.

  29. 29
    mykemyers

    @fernando :
    Regarding the hunting of wolves for “recreational purposes”, that, in my humble opinion, should be banned.
    Only the federal authorities could have the necessary permission to kill wolves, if they, for some reason present a threat to the people and other animals in the region.

    Wildlife management is done at the state level, not federal.
    When it’s determined that a population or local herd should be culled – how exactly do you think they go about that? They do it by allowing hunting of specific numbers in specific areas. When you hunt – you don’t just grab a rifle and head off to the woods to kill things. You’re given a tag to kill a specific number of animals in a very specific area. It takes hundreds, even thousands of individuals hunting every year to hit the target numbers set aside by fish and game biologists. The cost of employing state or federal workers to do that job would simply be overwhelming, and ultimately pointless.

  30. 30
    mykemyers

    “That doesn’t mean it’s an impulse that should be followed up on, though. There’s no way the population is big enough that hunts near Yellowstone are an ecologically sound management decision; it was clearly made under pressure from the eradication lobby.”

    Do you have any evidence of this – or does it just feel good to say it?

  31. 31
    mykemyers

    @theblackcat :”And I am sure it is a total coincidence that wolves are getting shot right on the very edge of the border of the park.”

    No coincidence at all. The state said wolves could be shot. Wolves are in the park. You can’t hunt in the park – so you go as close to it as possible. I fail to see the point you’re trying to make. If you’re looking for something, and you know the general area where it is – you go to that area.

  32. 32
    katenrala

    This is disgusting.

    So much time and energy has been spent trying to bring wolves back from human caused near extinction, and now that we’ve encroached on their territory, we shoot them when they leave the safe areas they have no comprehension of.

    Hunters don’t even hunt any species the way they should if it’s all about protecting the overall population. Instead of killing the sick, weak, old, and very young, the animals predators would target, they blow away the animals that are in their prime and the best specimens for the health of their population.

  33. 33
    mykemyers

    So – serious question.

    Is the wolf population more important than the other protected species in the Northern Rockies? If the wolf population grows to the point where it becomes a serious threat to the reintroduction of say buffalo, which gets preferential treatment? Given that wolves reproduce much faster than buffalo – at some point the wolf population reaches a critical mass where the efforts to repopulate buffalo in the area are threatened. Do you just say let nature take it’s course and allow wolves to stifle the growth of other species, or do you try to manage the growth in a way that allows both to flourish?

  34. 34
    mykemyers

    and @katenrala generally speaking – there are size/characteristic requirements when you hunt to ensure that animals that are taken have had the opportunity to reproduce, thus contributing to the gene pool of the species and ensuring diversity and health within the population. Example, you generally can’t shoot what’s considered an antlerless deer. By the time a buck has reached maturity to the point of being legal game, they have had multiple mating seasons of opportunity to propagate the heard. Spotting a game animal that is diseased or sick is about as likely as walking down the street and accurately picking people out of a crowd that have STDs. Maybe you have that ability but the rest of us mere mortals do not.

  35. 35
    unclefrogy

    I am not anti-hunting or pro hunting wolves or any other animal per say. We are very much involved in the environment and the ecology everywhere and need to take an active part in it if that is we want it to thrive in its historic diversity. The hunting rules are not so much about managing the animals as managing the hunters as stated by most of the state departments of fish and game it is to insure that there are animals to hunt not for the general overall health of the ecosystem.
    If the goal was the health of the ecosystem there is no reason that the hunt should be in the fall say for dear unless the goal was a better harvest of meat. For the better health of the heard late winter early spring would be better might be easier to spot the old weaker animals and mimic winter kills but they would make less than optimal meat and poorer trophies.
    We are just lazy and ignorant and many do not care. We do not want to really face up to what we have done and want to hope nature will come back regardless of what we do. It wont but we want to do it the same way we have always done it.

    How do you think Myke, Buffalo would be reintroduced a mated pair? We have been working with them for a while and I would think it would be a whole herd of a size judged to be viable for the area selected and would be monitored besides you implied that we would want to kill all the predators in the area to keep them safe, Really that is your first idea, that is just a lazy excuse to kill something else..

    uncle frogy

  36. 36
    mykemyers

    Actually – hunting is scheduled for the fall because that’s when the mating season is. That’s when the males are active and can actually be targeted. Hunting in the spring and summer would expose the yearlings to possible hunting, which would obviously be detrimental the health of the heard. Pregnant females could also be targeted which would be hugely unfavorable. This could also be the case in later winter months. The idea of specifically targeting weak or sick animals is a non-starter. Again, walk down the street and tell me which of the 10 people you pass has a disease. You can’t do it with people, how on earth are you supposed to do it with animals? If you’re talking about deer specifically – it’s not possible to distinguish a doe from a buck in the spring and summer. Depending on the winter conditions many bucks will lose their antlers by late winter or early spring – again making it difficult to distinguish a legal game animal from a pregnant female.

    I’m also not saying kill all the predators. Predators are a necessary part of any ecosystem. However, the fact remains that we have damaged the natural balance of things already. We have encroached on the natural habitat of many of these animals pretty severely. Like it or not there is not NEARLY as much land available to these animals as there was 300 years ago. There is not NEARLY as much prey for these animals as there was before we came along. They do essentially only have a tiny corner of the world to call home nowadays. That sucks, and our ancestors really screwed up a lot of stuff – but that’s the situation we’re faced with today. As a result – predators such as wolves simply cannot exist in that little corner of the world in numbers that rival their ancestral counterparts. There’s not enough land, and not enough food for them to do so. The natural balance so to speak got thrown out the window a long time ago. Trying to “just let nature run it’s course” simply isn’t a possibility.

    You say that fish and game managers are more interested in ensuring there are animals to hunt – with no regard to the ecosystem it’s self. How is that possible? The population has to be healthy and thriving in order for there to be animals to hunt in the first place. You can’t destroy the ecosystem and still have animals to hunt, as you seem to imply. The number of tags that are issued, the types of tags, and the location those tags can be filled is all based on population numbers and the availability of resources for the herd in that area. In the case of these wolves specifically – while the population might not be reaching epic proportions, it is reaching a size where they have to start venturing out of their protected habitat more and more simply to survive. This means that not only are they putting a strain on things like livestock in the area, but also that the prey species within their habitat may be at risk as well. Again like it or not, our development of land over the last 200+ years has meant that these animals do only have a small habitat to call their own. It sucks, but it is what it is.

  37. 37
    unclefrogy

    it still looks to me like the management is set not for the health of the ecosystem as a whole as much as to maximize the hunt.
    If it was really about the ecosystem why is the herd managed like cattle that live wild with the preference for buck and not doe? Hunters prefer bucks with antlers not does true?
    You would have to kill fewer animals to maintain the size of the herd if you took random individuals in late winter and early spring a pregnant doe reduces the overall numbers by 2 making. But bucks are not prime then no rack and the fawns OMG.
    We cull the males from our domestic herds the same way we are managing the wild ones it looks to me not for the herd but for the hunt.
    That is what we are really doing we manage for the hunt for the harvest it is all ways from our personal perspective our needs and desires for what we want out of it first, lumber, energy, gold and minerals, water or “sport” so lets stop pretending we are acting so noble. Just look what happens when we have to make a decision that for the the health of the ecosystem or a given habitat or species we restrict peoples actions. It sounds like it would cause the end of civilization itself if we can’t keep doing what ever it is we want to do. Take a mountain top off and fill in a valley pump water down a gas well or run our cows barely protected, kill the wolfs.
    it is too inconvenient to change.

    uncle frogy

  38. 38
    mykemyers

    If we’re talking about deer specifically still – does reproduce at a higher rate within their gender than bucks. Bucks compete for territory and mate with many does,producing several offspring per season, but not all bucks have that opportunity. It really depends on the size of the herd. Does on the other hand can only get pregnant once per season, cause, well – yea. Removing bucks from the population has a far less downward impact on the size of the population. With there being a greater number of does than bucks come mating season, it also means a greater number of bucks will have the opportunity to reproduce, adding diversity to the gene pool.
    When wildlife managers are trying to control the herd size – they will issue “antlerless tags” (in most states). Which allows for the hunting of does and anterless bucks. In some extreme cases they’ll even offer special herd reduction hunts in areas or during times of the year where hunting isn’t normally allowed.

    I’m not saying it’s necessarily “noble” – i’m saying there’s a hell of a lot more thought and reason that goes into this than some (like yourself) might believe. You say the system is designed to maximize the hunt – and not protect the ecosystem – but your logic is severely flawed. If you’re simply trying to maximize the hunt without any thought to the health of the herd, you’re going to have one year with amazingly high numbers, and nothing in the future. If you want to maximize the hunt for the long-term, you must ensure a healthy population. Without a healthy population – there is nothing to hunt. The two concepts are not exclusive, as you seem to think.

  39. 39
    katenrala

    Blah Blah Blah mykemyers

    I don’t care at all about hunter apologetics. Hunters, if they aren’t killing because they absolutely need the food, are people who enjoy killing animals for fun. That they use a gun or bow or trap is no different from a person who uses gasoline and fire on a stray cat.

    I’ve rubbed shoulders enough with hunters as a a resident of my particular area and as a gun owner to know hunter culture, and I not impressed with their actions and claims of being for conservation and/or of respecting the animals they target.

    I know how hunting works and my opinion of them lowered as I got to know them far better, so neither am I interested in being “educated” about hunters by you.

    Thanks for turning the entire comment section into your keyboard ejaculations.

  40. 40
    mykemyers

    but hey – i don’t know what the hell i’m talking about : http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2012/12/yellowstone-national-park-wolves-and-elk-near-equilibrium-according-biologist16304

  41. 41
    mykemyers

    katenrala – not apologizing for anything or anybody. No need to. Simply saying that there is some science behind it, and there are people who think about these things. Not even talking about hunters directly, just how herd sizes are managed and the goals of wildlife management.

  42. 42
    Inaji

    mykemyers, you might want to heed the rules of Pharyngula, as there’s one you’re violating:

    No motormouths. Look at your own pattern of behavior. If you find yourself taking up 20% or more of a thread; if every other comment is from you; if you find yourself making 3, 4, 5 comments in a row…you’re a boring ass. Shut up for a while. Let other people speak. Stop babbling, step back, write a longer comment offline, and think about it before you post it. Motormouths are either dangerously obsessed or are practicing a form of online harassment, and I will shut them down.

    Short form: give it a fucking rest.

  43. 43
    Jeff

    This behavior is abhorrent! I know that our wolf-sisters and wolf-brothers would help us if we were in need and they could provide aid.

  44. 44
    mykemyers

    I remember why I only tolerate this place in short bursts. Carry on.

  45. 45
    georgewiman

    @mykemyers #44 “I remember why I only tolerate this place in short bursts. Carry on.”

    Ah – good to hear. You’re best in small doses yourself.

  46. 46
    mykemyers

    sorry – let me insert some feel good comments that have no basis in science or fact so I can fit in.

    oh those poor animals!!! how horrible!!!!!~ screw hunters!!!

    amidoingitright?

  47. 47
    Inaji

    mykemyers, I see you’re unable to take a hint. Okay, I’ll be sending an alert. Excellent shooting by the way, seeing as you were aiming for your foot.

  48. 48
    mykemyers

    so – am i not supposed to respond to people who mention me directly? All for fear of being a “motormouth”? Was that the hint you were trying to make?

  49. 49
    PZ Myers

    No, you’re supposed to use your brain.

    We get newbies who stroll in all the time, get criticized, and their response is to start spewing out comment after comment after comment — sometimes multiple comments in a row, like you’re doing. It’s the equivalent of walking into a conversation, interrupting everyone, and trying to “win” by talking over everyone else. Like you’re doing.

    It’s trolling behavior. It’s guaranteed to annoy every one, even if you were making valid arguments (hint: you’re not.) It also means you aren’t listening when other people speak, and that you’re rattling off so many arguments you assume are correct that you aren’t really thinking.

    So shut up and pay attention a little bit before shooting your mouth off.

    For instance, your arguments are getting incoherent and inconsistent. You can’t compare deer and wolf population management. You can’t complain that wolf populations are “out of balance with the rest of the ecosystem” — tell me, if they were really out of balance and wolves were threatening the populations of deer and elk, wouldn’t there be a moratorium on deer and elk hunting (to allow them to recover from the fearsome depradations of swarms of wolves) at the same time they opened up hunting on wolves? Why hasn’t that happened?

    Because this really isn’t about maintaining a balanced ecosystem. It’s always about satisfying the appetite of ‘sportsmen’ for killing. These animals are viewed by hunters not as key species in a network of plant and animal communities, but as herds that are bred for slaughter. And that is an unsustainable and incorrect view of nature.

  50. 50
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    You know, we’re rapidly approaching the point where I could make a Wolf Hunting BINGO card.

    I’ve got a “y’all a bunch of city folks who don’t know anything about this”, “we’re just trying to manage the wildlife”, “there isn’t enough prey for the wolves (’cause we keep killing their prey)” AND “we have to kill their prey”, too.

    It’s just the same self-contradictory stuff over and over again.

  51. 51
    mykemyers

    PZ – actually if you read the link I posted where they talked to the biologist at yellowstone – one of the points he made is that the wolf population has helped bring the Elk and Bison population down to normal levels. That in places such as the northern slope – the wolf population declined due to a lack of suitable prey. The numbers are in balance, for the first time in many years. In more recent history that was not the case, and the wolf population was suffering from disease and other problems due to over population for the area. This is the first year that Wyoming has allowed hunting wolves in many many years, and Montana and Idaho only allowed it starting within the last couple of years. The program works – as yellowstone’s own biologists are pointing out. The bigger issue is moving forward, how often will hunting be allowed, and in what numbers?

    As far as moratoriums on deer and elk hunting – while there’s no moratorium, the number of tags issued has decreased pretty significantly over the last few years from what I recall, for the very reason you mentioned. They’ve certainly gotten a lot more expensive. The herd sizes have decreased and come back in line with historical levels. The movement of these herds has also changed with the reintroduction of predators. It doesn’t take much more than looking at the number of elk on the national refuge outside of Jackson in 2005, versus this year, to see that. It’s also not simply a matter of “there’s no more elk” but a question of prey that’s a viable food option. A healthy adult bull is capable of fighting off a wolf attack. Weaker animals that are suitable prey are not. Again, look at the pack numbers to the north, and the numbers have fallen off due to a lack of suitable prey, even though there’s still hundreds, even thousands of elk in the area.

    The conversation took a turn towards deer because sombody brought it up – and the conversation turned towards hunting in general, and how fish and game tends to always try to satisfy the hunters (which is not the case, or there wouldn’t be any animals left anywhere)

    I apologize if I came off as overbearing. I thought there was a conversation taking place. Clearly i was mistaken, and I won’t make that mistake again.

  52. 52
    travisdykes

    Wow y’all, Mykemyers may have had a major case of “someone is wrong on the internet” but his main points are correct. Yeah, there are a LOT of idiots who go hunting who just want to kill things. However they are not the ones in charge of the hunting regulations. The people who do write the regulations get a LOT of input from biologists to determine when to open the hunting season for each species, how many licenses to make available, and how many animals can be taken in order to keep the animal populations at sustainable levels. Yeah we have encroached into the animals territory to the point that we have to manage the animal populations to prevent the problems caused by overpopulation and the inconvenience to people of wild animals coming into human areas, and hunting is one method state wildlife departments use to do this.
    Granted things are managed in a way so that there will be animals for people to hunt, but guess what if its done right that’s actually a good thing. For one, it means that there are plenty of animals there for non-hunters to come see, and that the populations are fairly healthy. For another, the fees hunters pay for their licenses are the biggest source of revenue for conservation. If you look at Wyoming right now, their wildlife department is having some major funding issues, and needs to raise an additional 8-10 million dollars. ALL of the options they are looking at to raise that money involve getting more money from hunters.

    I dont like Wolves being killed, but I would prefer to see one shot than see one starve to death. Not to mention that about the only time wolves are really dangerous to have around is when they are starving. If the state biologists and conservationists have determined that the number of wolves has reached the point that some need to be hunted, then its probably safe to say they are right. Granted there is a whole hell of a lot of politics that went into that decision, and Wyoming is one of those states where a significant portion of the population is more interested in killing things than conservation, but as much time effort and money went into re-introducing wolves to the area the wild life department is not going to let the wolf population get decimated again. It could be argued that there should be a regulation against shooting wolfs with tracking collars but that is a different argument.

    I like being an atheist and talking with other atheists partially because we generally try to argue based on evidence rather than feelings, but hunting seems to be one of the topics that a lot of people just cant get past their irrational biases, as this comment section shows. The guy that was arguing based on the evidence got boo-hissed, but I doubt anyone is going to get on Jeffsutter for his wolf-brother wolf sister comment about wolfs coming to our aid which is about as sensible as taking some rhino horn to get a bigger penis. Nor is anybody getting on unclefroggy for his complete lack of understanding of how wildlife management works.

  53. 53
    travisdykes

    Also Dalillama, Schmott Guy, that sentry gun idea is pretty cool, though I think its a little cruel to shoot critters with airsoft guns. They make motion sensors that you can hook up to a sprinkler for keeping deer out of gardens, might be able to rig one of these sentry guns to a hose like that for rabbits and birds.

  54. 54
    dobbshead

    These animals are viewed by hunters not as key species in a network of plant and animal communities, but as herds that are bred for slaughter. And that is an unsustainable and incorrect view of nature.

    This right here is something that mykemyers has specifically addressed, and I find his viewpoint a lot more consistent than yours in this case. I don’t quite see how wanting to have large herds of wolves, deer and bear to hunt in incompatible with sustainable ecosystem management. You seem more to have a goal of vilifying hunters for liking hunting than a valid criticism about ecosystem management.

    Maybe mykemyers is being a bit of a motormouth, but his viewpoint in this thread has been the most convincing. All I’ve really heard from the anti-hunting camp “oh, look how beautiful wolves are… hunters are sociopaths!” and some vague points about culling the weak and the sick from a population that were refuted.

  55. 55
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    I don’t quite see how wanting to have large herds of wolves, deer and bear to hunt in incompatible with sustainable ecosystem management.

    Because manipulating the populations for the sake of providing desirable hunting targets isn’t part of the ecosystem those animals are adapted for. Such management treats wild animals like a semi-domesticated population, being domesticated by someone who wants to destroy everything they find attractive in the species. It would be as if I went out into the woods around my property and began killing off all of the plants I really like, and then tried to claim that this was management to keep the forest ecosystem healthy.

    Human-induced evolution caused by unnatural selection through harvest of wild animals:

    Human harvest of phenotypically desirable animals from wild populations imposes selection that can reduce the frequencies of those desirable phenotypes. Hunting and fishing contrast with agricultural and aquacultural practices in which the most desirable animals are typically bred with the specific goal of increasing the frequency of desirable phenotypes. We consider the potential effects of harvest on the genetics and sustainability of wild populations.

    …it is likely that some undesirable changes observed over time in exploited populations (e.g., reduced body size, earlier sexual maturity, reduced antler size, etc.) are due to selection against desirable phenotypes—a process we call “unnatural” selection. Evolution brought about by human harvest might greatly increase the time required for over-harvested populations to recover once harvest is curtailed because harvesting often creates strong selection differentials, whereas curtailing harvest will often result in less intense selection in the opposing direction. We strongly encourage those responsible for managing harvested wild populations to take into account possible selective effects of harvest management and to implement monitoring programs to detect exploitation-induced selection before it seriously impacts viability.

  56. 56
    chigau (違う)

    Wolves eat lots of rabbits.

  57. 57
    mykemyers

    Because manipulating the populations for the sake of providing desirable hunting targets isn’t part of the ecosystem those animals are adapted for.

    I could understand, and even agree with this – if that’s what was going on. Hunting isn’t something that happens by design. At least not in this case, in this area. Wildlife isn’t managed to create more game. Hunting is a byproduct that’s allowed to happen only at times and in levels that are not at odds with a bigger wildlife management plan. That’s why the number of tags released every year varies based on things like spring herd fly-byes, and hunting areas are designated based on migration patterns. If game were managed simply to create more hunting opportunities – you would still see the northern teton elk herds numbering in the 10s of thousands. If anything the hunters in the area are more upset than anyone because they can’t just walk out their back door and shoot something the way they could in the recent past.

  58. 58
    Matt Penfold

    If the hunting is being carried out as part of a population management system, then why was an alpha female shot ? Such culling programs are not supposed to target the healthiest, strongest animals.

  59. 59
    dobbshead

    I’d like to start this reply by admitting my ignorance: I have no more than an educated layperson’s understanding of population biology. I also don’t have a huge stake in this argument since I live in the middle of NYC.

    Such management treats wild animals like a semi-domesticated population, being domesticated by someone who wants to destroy everything they find attractive in the species.

    You just made an argument current hunting policies are counter-productive to the interest of hunters who want deer with the largest antlers, etc. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the population will be destroyed, it just means it will change in an undesirable way to hunters. I don’t see how that means it is unsustainable. When I hear the word unsustainable, I take it to mean that the population will be destroyed rather than develop into something else. Am I incorrect in thinking that?

    Because manipulating the populations for the sake of providing desirable hunting targets isn’t part of the ecosystem those animals are adapted for.

    So? The ecosystem those populations now live in is bordered and surrounded by people, people who need to use the land to feed themselves. Isn’t hard for deer to coexist with farmland? If land is being used to raise livestock, doesn’t that mean there is necessarily less land for wolves to live on? Doesn’t that mean that we are going to place some selective pressure on natural populations simply by trying to use the same land?

    If culling wolves and deer by hunting keeps their numbers stable and prevents them from encroaching on farmland, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t do that. I see the argument that we should do it in a manner that maintains a long-term stable population, and I also see the argument that keystone predators are important for the health of the ecosystem: I don’t think either has been contested. What I don’t see is the argument that our current policies are failing to achieve both goals, or that limited hunting of wolves doesn’t achieve that goal.

  60. 60
    dobbshead

    hurp durp, my last post had two quote fails:

    “Such management treats wild animals like a semi-domesticated population, being domesticated by someone who wants to destroy everything they find attractive in the species.”

    “Because manipulating the populations for the sake of providing desirable hunting targets isn’t part of the ecosystem those animals are adapted for.”

  61. 61
    Matt Penfold

    What I don’t see is the argument that our current policies are failing to achieve both goals, or that limited hunting of wolves doesn’t achieve that goal.

    So why was it an alpha female was shot ? A culling program should not take out the healthiest, strongest animals yet she was shot quite legally. That suggests that what is happening in Minnesota is a population control program after all.

  62. 62
    chigau (違う)

    To whom it may concern:
    If you type
    <blockquote>paste quoted text here</blockquote>
    this will result.

    paste quoted text here

    It will make your comments easier to read.

  63. 63
    mykemyers

    Matt – says who? Again, look at the statements by the wolf biologist in yellowstone. He says flat out it’s not about one single animal.

    While we may get a little choked up seeing an animal we think is beautiful or recognized die – at the end of the day animals do die. Sometimes the healthy ones, sometimes the alphas, sometimes the very young. Sometimes it’s a bullet from a hunter, sometimes it’s a rival wolf pack in the area. It’s about looking at the state of the population overall, not one single animal.

    @dobbshead – you hit on a point a lot of people don’t like to admit. A lot of people like to take the “let nature take it’s course” road. That we should not be interfering with these systems. It ignores the fact that our very existence is an interference.

  64. 64
    Matt Penfold

    Matt – says who? Again, look at the statements by the wolf biologist in yellowstone. He says flat out it’s not about one single animal.

    Says the NY Times.

    So I will ask you again, why was an alpha female shot ?

  65. 65
    mykemyers

    I meant, who says that you can’t/shouldn’t shoot an alpha. Again – it’s not about one single animal.

  66. 66
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    The Minnesota and GYE situations are different and should be treated so.

    However, there is a commonality to both (and other wolf areas like Wisconsin)

    Ranchers and animal owners are reimbursed for livestock depredation by wolves.

    That’s just MN but there are similar programs elsewhere.

    Some numbers on how many cattle and sheep are lost due to Wolf depredation in Wyoming.

    more

  67. 67
    Nepenthe

    The people who do write the regulations get a LOT of input from biologists to determine when to open the hunting season for each species, how many licenses to make available, and how many animals can be taken in order to keep the animal populations at sustainable levels.

    And oil coal and natural gas regulations get a lot of input from scientists. I mean, sure, said scientists have a financial interest in protecting their employers, but surly science can’t be biased.

  68. 68
    Matt Penfold

    I meant, who says that you can’t/shouldn’t shoot an alpha. Again – it’s not about one single animal.

    It is standard practice to preferentially cull elderly and sick animals when undertaking population control.

    So again I ask, why was the alpha female shot ? If you cannot answer this time it will be assumed you have no good answer.

  69. 69
    Nepenthe

    Wildlife isn’t managed to create more game.

    HAHAHAHA. HAH. Ha. ha.

    Wait are you serious? That’s basically all the wildlife management agencies do here (again, wolf area, not the rockies). Tourism is the only way we get money and hunters are great tourists (purchase lotsa beer). And that is why my state is having a wolf hunt, because deer aren’t unnaturally overpopulated anymore.

    And when I say unnaturally overpopulated, I don’t mean in some woo-woo circle of life way. I mean that our forests are dying because there are virtually no surviving plants, including saplings, less than 8 feet off the ground.

  70. 70
    mykemyers

    Matt – I have no good answer because it’s not a good question. That’s not how hunting programs are managed. Tags are released for X number of animals in an area during a timespan. With some species you can distinguish between male or female – but with others you cannot. Determining what is an alpha pack animal and what is not cannot be determined by casual observation.

    Your question is flawed. You might as well be asking someone “do you still beat your wife?”. It’s loaded, and you know it.

  71. 71
    mykemyers

    Nepenthe – perhaps that is where you are. I’m speaking specifically about the yellowstone and teton wyo region. They actually do a fairly good job up there, and honestly it’s much to the dismay of a lot of the hunters in the area. It’s not nearly as hunter-driven as some may think, certainly not as much as it’s made out to be here.

  72. 72
    katenrala

    @ Matt Penfold

    It is standard practice to preferentially cull elderly and sick animals when undertaking population control.

    So again I ask, why was the alpha female shot ? If you cannot answer this time it will be assumed you have no good answer.

    Mykemyers addressed this: according to him, it would be just too hard for the poor little hunters to validate the status of their targets.

  73. 73
    Nepenthe

    With some species you can distinguish between male or female – but with others you cannot. Determining what is an alpha pack animal and what is not cannot be determined by casual observation.

    Perhaps then hunts for supposedly overpopulated animals should be conducted by wildlife management experts, not amateur yahoos with high-powered rifles and delusions of grandeur.

    And indeed, in my area this is how legitimate population control hunts are done in state parks, once the population of deer has gotten so high that the suburbanites are occasionally disturbed by starving animals dying on their lawns.

  74. 74
    fredfakr

    @mykemyers,

    Myke, I see a hole in your argument that

    Hunting is a byproduct that’s allowed to happen only at times and in levels that are not at odds with a bigger wildlife management plan. That’s why the number of tags released every year varies based on things like spring herd fly-byes, and hunting areas are designated based on migration patterns. hunting

    If you read a bit more into this incident, you’d see that the carcass was found. I could certainly be wrong but I’ve yet to see any indication that this kill was tracked by officials in any way. This doesn’t appear, and I could be wrong, to be a case of someone taking out a license and reporting a kill but rather someone shooting a wolf and leaving the carcass for the researchers to find.
    The carcass wasn’t reported.. it was found.

    Of course, it was beyond the shooter’s ability to know, but the tracking on this wolf showed that it rarely ventured out of protected areas and this doesn’t support the argument [for this case] that the fact the wolves are entering non-protected areas as a result of overpopulation caused food shortages. The descriptions I’ve seen so far seem to indicate the Wolf just had a range that extended beyond the park borders. If the packs had decimated the local wildlife, I would expect them to be actively and frequently praying on livestock rather than occasionally wandering into grazing areas.
    The number I saw in another story was something around 100 wolves in the population and that seems like a completely reasonable population for a large wildlife reserve.

    Now, I have the luxury of not being a rancher who has to deal with Wolves. It still pains me to see a majestic animal killed because it’s an inconvenience to man.

    In this specific case I’m really bothered by the kill. Was there any indication the wolf was hunting livestock? I don’t know though we could probably figure that out by questioning the local ranchers about where their herds were and looking at the telemetry on the collar to see if they intersected.
    It was, however, wearing a collar and obviously part of a study. I feel safe in generalizing that the main motivator for culling in an agricultural area is the selfish protection of the hunter’s [rancher's] resources, while I believe there are hunts with the distinct intent to control populations for the ecosystem’s sake in other areas.

    Selfish protection of human’s interests. Good work killing the participants in a scientific study a-holes.

  75. 75
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    I like how I post a quote from and link to PNAS where hard data regarding actual detrimental effects on wild populations is shown, and the only response I get is, “Hurr. That’s not how it works. Hurr.”

    Because the actual measurements of the animals is irrelevant? Because somehow these pro-dead-wolf folks can come up with a better explanation for what’s happening to the animals? Why are there so many tuskless elephants now if not as a result of gene drift due to poaching for bigger tusks?

    This is pretty basic science here. This is stuff Darwin took notice of and used as evidence for evolution. You send people out with guns and let them shoot for trophies/bragging rights instead of to take out sick and weak animals, you end up removing the healthiest animals from the gene pool. In the next generation, those genes are less prevalent and this continues generation after generation. The population is weakened and with an animal that already has a limited gene pool because it’s coming back from the brink of extinction, this is incredibly, astoundingly irresponsible. This is not beneficial wildlife management.

    It’s bowing to the economic interests of tourism and the lobbying of people with non-gender-specific boners for dead animals.

  76. 76
    dobbshead

    I like how I post a quote from and link to PNAS where hard data regarding actual detrimental effects on wild populations is shown, and the only response I get is, “Hurr. That’s not how it works. Hurr.”

    That’s not what I said, at least. I said you were making an argument about one type of policy. Technical papers take time to read and comment on. Especially technical papers outside my field. They usually have caveats about what population they were studying and the specific practices they are examining, and that takes time to read and understand.

  77. 77
    pentatomid

    What always strikes me is that the species that ‘need management’ are pretty much always either impressive hunting tropheys or economically interesting (for meat, etc…). I find this… suspicious.
    (Note: I have done work in nature conservation myself, and am fully aware that there is such a thing as decent, science based population control through hunting. Too often, however, I’ve seen ‘population management’ used as an excuse for blood sport.)

    Matt’s concern about why they shot an alpha animal is indeed very much justified, and not only because in population control elderly or sick animals are preferrentially targeted. Killing an alpha wolf, or a healthy, dominant stag for that matter, often causes the existing social structure in a pack (or her)d to fall apart. One of the consequences can be that you’ll get more young individuals wandering for great distances, which causes all sorts of trouble, ranging from livestock being attacked more to an increase in traffic accidents involving wild animals. The latter is actually something that happened where I live (with roe deer, not with wolves). I’m fine with hunting for population management where the situation calls for it, but this is something that should be left up to wildlife management experts, not amateurs. People who understand the behaviour and population dynamics of the species concerned, not just the local band of hicks with guns.

  78. 78
    mykemyers

    Under the current framework of the hunting guidelines – there’s no need to validate the target. There’s no need to know whether or not an animal is “alpha” or not. According to the biologists own words – it’s irrelevant. Biologists and researchers set a number as the limit that can be taken during a hunt. If an animals happens to be taken, it’s taken, if it’s not – it’s not. We can sit here and debate whether or not that’s how it SHOULD be all day – but when the biologists and experts in the area, who are studying and managing the EXACT animals we’re talking about, when they say it doesn’t matter – I’m inclined to believe them. Wildlife biologists at Yellowstone are not exactly known for putting hunting concerns over wildlife populations.

    As far as the tracked animal rarely going outside of yellowstone. I did read that. However, I also read where the biologist talking about it said it was evidence of how the pack was having to travel to find food now that the elk populations have come back down to normal levels. I have yet to see anything that said it was just killed and left there. Quite the contrary it was discussed as one of the animals killed as a part of the planned hunt.

  79. 79
    pentatomid

    Also, and this has been mentioned before, if there really is a surplus of wolves and a shortage of deer/elk/whatever prey animal then there should AT THE VERY LEAST be a moratorium on the hunting of these animals (a decrease in the number of tags really isn’t good enough if the problems caused by wolves for the livestock owners are as big as is claimed). Furthermore, I’d like to know to what extent scare measures, such as the recordings of wolf packs mentioned abovethread, are used alongside the increased hunting.

  80. 80
    Nepenthe

    Biologists and researchers set a number as the limit that can be taken during a hunt.

    I am amused by your belief that take limits are objective, non-political numbers set solely by non-biased scientists.

  81. 81
    mykemyers

    This is getting to the point of ridiculousness. If you don’t like hunting, that’s fine. The whole point I was trying to make is that there is a science to what these guys do, and it’s not all just about people with guns.

    I think I made that point pretty clearly. If you disagree – so be it.

  82. 82
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    One elephant in the room here is that despite legal hunting of wolves outside the park boundaries and scientific reasons given for population control, rancher fucking hate the very idea of wolves. Hunting for sport, hunting for population control, hunting for ecosystem health has exactly zero to do why many hunt wolves both legally and illegally.

    I did my senior thesis on the reintroduction of the gray wolf in Yellowstone comparing it to other wolf reintroduction in other places (Red Wolf in NC for instance) and then promptly moved to Jackson Wyoming after graduation. Speaking with those who were working on and in charge of aspects of the reintroduction a common theme was that ranchers fucking hate wolves. Period. Whether they have had depredation of their livestock or not it is part of the culture. Sure there are a few examples of those that have bought into it, but those are very few. This culture pushes them to kill any and all wolves they have the ability, access, stomach and risk tolerance to kill. This is why there plenty of examples of wolves being killed and the carcass being found and not reported. I moved away from WY in 2000 and this is anecdotal but I’m fully betting the ranching culture in the GYE hasn’t changed that much in 15 years.

  83. 83
    mykemyers

    Rev – Yea, some of the local ranchers still take the “1 wolf is 1 too many” approach. The view has changed pretty considerably over the last decade, but some of that is still there. Despite what some like to believe however, ranchers don’t set fish and game policy, and despite what political influence they have – tourism and public opinion concerns leave fish and game to act pretty freely. At least that’s the impression I’ve gotten over the years, and it still seemed that way when I left Jackson earlier this year.

  84. 84
    pentatomid

    Mykemyers,

    Pretty much every wildlife biologist I’ve ever spoken to tells me that the social structure of the animal concerned should be taken into consideration, and they all discourage killing alpha animals. Yet you claim that in Yellowstone, this is different. That it somehow mysteriously doesn’t make any difference whether an animal killed is an alpha animal or not. Color me skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, one can model population sizes based on ‘harvest rates’ and thus calculate how many anymals one needs to kill to obtain a manageable population. However, weather a population consists of a couple of larger packs, or a population (of equal size) has many wolves travelling alone or in small groups makes a lot of difference to how much livestock will be killed, how much wolves will wander into populated areas and how much car accidents will happen.

    Rev. BigDumbChimp,

    Indeed. Another reason why hunting for population management should be left to experts, and not the local band of armed thugs.

  85. 85
    unclefrogy

    I to find it strange that Myke thinks that the “tags” issued by “biologists” and should be trusted to be objective.
    Then talks about the revenue and the increase costs of tags to make up for the numbers.
    I agree that the biologists are consulted but this is naive to think that there are not many others whose interests are also given weight in the final decision of what, and how many to cull or harvest and if I am not mistaken harvest is the word most often used.
    Those others who get a voice are the hunters, and the outfitters and those others who directly benefit from the hunt and the ranchers and land owners in the nearby areas and with predator hunts it would also be real estate developers. All have their lobbyist with campaign money involved. The discussion here would surly indicate that the hunt is as practiced as much a political issue as a scientific one.
    to argue anything else is absurd.

    uncle frogy

  86. 86
    mykemyers

    While some of the shot wolves might have been alpha males or females, alpha animals have been killed by rival packs inside the park in the past, he pointed out. Some years back the alpha female of the Nez Perce Pack was killed by another pack, he said, and while “the four remaining wolves went every which way,” the void created by the pack’s demise was filled by the Gibbon Pack.

    “Does it (hunting) affect the population biologically? Probably not,” said Dr. Smith. “But does it affect the research? Yes. Right now we’re trying to track a pack out there, and they have no collars.”

    Be as skeptical as you want.

  87. 87
    mykemyers

    unclefrogy – I never said the tags are issued by biologists. I said tags are issued by fish and game, and the numbers are set in part based on recommendations by biologists.

    To be honest – the hunting crowd in Wyoming, particularly in the tetons has been quite unhappy with Wyoming fish and game for some time over their lowered tag limits and restrictions on hunting. Tourism brings far more money to the state, especially that part of the state, than hunting does – and the lobby is not as powerful as some (such as yourself) seem to believe. The general public as a whole is far more concerned about tourism opportunities and being able to see these animals for themselves than the concerns of hunters.

    If you have some sort of evidence that backs up your claims – by all means share it. I’d love to see it. I’ve already linked to an article backing up the things I say, and there’s countless more where that came from. It’s not hard to find this information if you care to look. Kinda tired of debating “feel good” arguments though. You think something about an area you clearly have not been, do not much about – and you call my statements absurd.

    Now i’m done. This is beyond reasonable debate.

  88. 88
    Rey Fox

    I know that our wolf-sisters and wolf-brothers would help us if we were in need and they could provide aid.

    Um, what?

  89. 89
    mgr1

    Myke at 86:

    The problem is that Doug Smith’s expertise is wildlife management, the article provided by The Mellow Monkey is clearly a review article concerned with the evolutionary impact where hunting selection against a particular phenotype may sufficiently alter the underlying population genetics to where there is a change in phenotype (the article also confirms Matt Penfield’s observation for wildlife management across the puddle). In a population of approximately 100 with ten mating pairs, I suspect that Dr. Smith’s expert opinion regarding the loss of a single alpha female would be open to challenge, as genetic drift is likely.

    Myke at 87:

    Nothing stated by unclefroggy is unreasonable. There is a political dimension to how the quotas are set. One could also read Playing God in Yellowstone. I would add that my experience with my state’s fish and game (I worked with them for a time) is that they are often the very hunters and fishers they set out the regulate.

    I would like to make the further point, that one cannot conclude that you have a healthy ecosystem by simply arguing that the wolves and elk appear to be at equilibrium, unless you choose to ignore that other keystone species, the Grizzly Bear, and other herbivores.

    Mike

  90. 90
    Crissa

    A) Isn’t it illegal to shoot a radio collared animal? Isn’t it at least unsporting?

    B) Don’t you only have a couple hundred wolves? Doesn’t this pretty much wipe them out?

  91. 91
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    Rey Fox, I’m betting that was just trolling, which was why I ignored it. There had been a lot of coverage in the last wolf hunting thread about the Anishinaabe relationship with wolves, which considers them “brothers” to people. Presumably that’s where that bizarre comment came from.

    Of course, it’s not taken literally any more than “man’s best friend” is expected to pick up his buddy after a night out drinking, but that’s just not nearly as much fun to mock, is it?

  92. 92
    Crissa

    Hunters are actually not ‘good’ for your economy – like smokers – they buy and sell alot, sure, but they limit what you can get in other tourists because they take the best, and they endanger other uses while they’re in the woods. They also do alot of ecological damage: They’re one of the largest sources of ‘accidental’ fire and litter.

  93. 93
    unclefrogy

    what I am I think others have been saying is that the hunt is determined by the various Fish and Game depts. not for the interest of the environment and ecosystem alone but taking into the other political interest who an interest in it.
    It is a political decision not an environmental decision everything you have said indicates that. We are trying to balance many conflicting interests some of which are antagonistic to regulation of any kind.
    It is an imperfect and distorted process and often gets things wrong.
    That is what I took as the point of the post in the first place.

    uncle frogy

  94. 94
    mykemyers

    Crissa – the radio collar really doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot outside of research. Fish and game has never made any regulations saying a radio collar’s animal is off limits. What exactly would be unsporting about it over any other animal you’re shooting with a freakin high powered rifle? (Despite what some of you may think, i’m not a hunter btw)

    Also – yellowstone is one little corner of the state. Wyoming allowed tags for 50 wolves in the entire state. The Yellowstone packs had 24 healthy pups remaining after the winter last year, and if i’m not mistaken 7 of the yellowstone packs were killed by hunters. That’s still a net gain of 17 for the year, despite claims that this hunting program will be the end of the world.Most of the discussion we’ve had here has been about the yellowstone animals specifically, not the others around the state.

  95. 95
    mykemyers

    unclefrogy – you can think that all day long if it makes you feel good. Ranchers and hunters have been pushing for expanded limits in that area for long time, and fish and game has always maintained that their goal is to protect the long-term viability of the ecosystems and animals involved first and foremost. The local press articles over the last several years can back up my claims. Scientists like those working in yellowstone back up those claims. Fish and game in wyoming backs up those claims.

    You have an idea in your head that’s contrary to that, based on how you think it works elsewhere. If/when you have evidence to support your claim, please bring it forward. Until then we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.

  96. 96
    unclefrogy

    I have no idea what you are saying any more.
    Are you saying that all the decisions concerning hunting and the environment by the fish and game departments are made without the consideration of all the conflicting interest all ready mentioned?

    uncle frogy

  97. 97
    Matt Penfold

    Matt – I have no good answer because it’s not a good question. That’s not how hunting programs are managed. Tags are released for X number of animals in an area during a timespan. With some species you can distinguish between male or female – but with others you cannot. Determining what is an alpha pack animal and what is not cannot be determined by casual observation.

    True one cannot identify pack status without careful study, which means that the whole system of licensing is flawed, and by your own admission is about sport and not welfare. This is why in civilised countries those who do the culling are specially trained, and have extensive knowledge of the animals they intend to cull.

    You have actually answered my question, but only by conceding that hunters in Minnesota are not competent, lacking as you admit sufficient knowledge of the animals in question.

    Can you explain why you did not own up to this lack of competence earlier ?

  98. 98
    mykemyers

    Uncle Forgy – I’m saying i’m not going to go around this circle of an argument with you again. We disagree. It happens.

    Matt – i have not once even talked about hunters in Minnesota.
    What you claim a lack of competence is irrelevant. There is no requirement of being able to identify alpha members to obtain a hunting license or a tag. You’re trying to place an arbitrary bar of entry that exists only in your own mind, and then chalk up nobody meeting that requirement as “lack of competence”. I didn’t bother to address your question quite so directly earlier because it was completely irrelevant, and has no basis in how hunting works in practice, as a matter of law, or even in theory. It is meaningless and did not even immediately grasp the point you were trying to make. Again, when the biologists in charge of researching and managing the wolf population in yellowstone, come flat out and say that the hunting of an alpha female is not an issue for the health of the heard – i’m going to take their word over your opinions of what’s civilized and what’s not ANY DAY.

    thanks for playing.

  99. 99
    mykemyers

    you do realize that Yellowstone (where the tagged female above was killed), and Minnesota are literally over a thousand miles apart – right?

  100. 100
    Matt Penfold

    What you claim a lack of competence is irrelevant

    Thanks for confirming that what you support is nothing but a lust for killing things, and that has nothing to do with any kind of population control, or indeed any benefit to the wolves. Of course we already knew that. It was just you were not being quite so honest before.

  101. 101
    mykemyers

    oh matt honey… if only you knew…

    boil down a little more. if you’re lucky you’ll get an argument out of it. think i’m wrong. let’s really discuss it. you have any facts or figures? until then, piss off. I can back up every single claim I make with at least a half dozen fully vetted qualified experts. What do you have? Your gut?

  102. 102
    mykemyers

    u mad bro?

  103. 103
    Nepenthe

    Obvious troll is obvious.

  104. 104
    carlie

    Despite what some like to believe however, ranchers don’t set fish and game policy,

    Well, that’s nice for policy. What do the ranchers do to the local wolf populations?

    I can back up every single claim I make with at least a half dozen fully vetted qualified experts.

    Oh please, open up your pants and show us list your citations. If you can back it up, you should have done so in the first place. Around these parts, we like citations.

  105. 105
    Matt Penfold

    oh matt honey… if only you knew…

    boil down a little more. if you’re lucky you’ll get an argument out of it. think i’m wrong. let’s really discuss it. you have any facts or figures? until then, piss off. I can back up every single claim I make with at least a half dozen fully vetted qualified experts. What do you have? Your gut?

    Why not just admit you have been caught spouting bullshit ? You know you have, I know you have and everyone else knows it as well. It is not as though you are even trying to maintain the pretence anymore. I asked you queestion and you have become more and more evasive, to the extent you can now only be treated as a dishonest troll.

  106. 106
    travisdykes

    So I think this thread has pretty much run its course and I dont see a whole lot of point in spending the time Mykemyers has arguing about this, but I thought I would make a couple additional points that I think are a part of the disagreement and reply to a couple other things.

    First off Nepenthe and Matt: yes, politics do come into play, I said as much in my first post. Anytime you have a government agency setting legal limits on something, you get political play form those with a vested interest. IDK what state your in though, but my experience in western states is that there is a huge political push for basing hunting regulations on what is actually good biological science. This is opposed to some southern states I’ve been in where the hunting regulations are written specifically to allow a lot of people to go hunting. The big difference is in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, etc there are more people that come out to those states specifically to see these animals than people who come out to hunt them, and so the tourism lobby has quite a bit of influence. Additionally, (and this is definitely anecdotal) but I found the hunting culture at least in Colorado to be quite different from what it is in Louisiana where Im living now. At least in that hunters in Colorado seemed to be genuinely concerned with ensuring there was a healthy population of healthy animals for future generations to enjoy (both hunting and being able to go out and see them). In Louisiana though, I’ve found hunting culture to be far more about just going out and killing what you can and screw the future (definitely NOT true of everyone I know here, just the how the general flavor of the culture seems to me). I haven’t hunted in Wyoming though I have spent a little bit of time up there, but I dont think i can say too much on their hunting culture.

    The argument about hunting in general and how we should only have trained wild life management people doing the hunting in order to control the population is a good argument for an idealized world. Unfortunately we dont live there and the cost of that kind of program would be huge. Hence you have hunting permits which while not being the best solution, it does allow for mostly the same effect and pretty much finances the conservation efforts of state wildlife agencies. Hunters are pretty tightly controlled in western states as to when they can hunt what and how many people get to do so. For most species hunting regulations are set so that animals are taken after they have a chance to breed. One of the incentives for hunters to pay as much as they do to hunt is being able to take larger animals that either provide more meat, a better trophy, or both. Hunters taking these animals is not a sign of incompetence, but rather what they are buying the opportunity to do when they buy their license. In my experience many hunters actually do go through some pains to ensure the animal they are going out after is one of the older ones right towards the end of its prime. If hunting seasons and the number of tags issued are set correctly so these animals get to breed first, this works out pretty well for everyone involved including the animal population.

    I looked up the regulations for Wyoming, and it looks like they could have been far more conservative with them. They are written pretty much to limit hunting in the area around the National Parks, but the rest of the state is pretty much open season, though this first year is an experimental season so the regulations may change next year depending on what the population looks like after this season. Also, by the “rest of the state, the area where wolves are designated as predatory animals and not trophy animals and thus there is an open season, is slightly less than 1/4 of the state mostly in the south eastern part. So in most of the state wolf hunting is pretty controlled. I can still see some good arguments for tightening up the rules on hunting wolves though. One thing I could see doing is setting an additional fee hunters would have to pay for killing a radio tagged wolf as a disincentive to killing the alphas. Granted it would not be very easy to enforce, but if you put a large enough fine on not reporting and a large enough reward out for information leading to such a fine being assessed against someone (how a lot of people who break hunting laws are caught) it would probably significantly reduce the number of alphas shot in the season.

    I sorry if I got a started rambling a bit, I think I missed a couple points I wanted to hit as well, however I have to go to work so I dont have time to clean it up much more.

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